I am so very lucky to be surrounded by many amazing friends and wonderful family and this has been a major part of my own success in dealing with mental health issues. Positive relationships are so very important when dealing with any mental illness.
One of my dear friends is an MS warrior and one day we sat and discussed the fatigue that we both experience (mine as a result of fibromyalgia) this is when she introduced me to the spoon theory.
What is the spoon theory?
Most of us experience low energy levels and stamina at some point in the life. The odd days here and there when you feel that a duvet and pj day is in order.
When the one day runs into day you begin to worry about when you are unable to function at a normal level and worry about others perception of you “being lazy” this is when you need the spoon theory.
The spoon theory has been around for decades (thank you Christing Mirserandino,2003) and it is a visual aid to help to express the energy levels that someone may experience during a “normal” day.
Every action that is undertaken by the person is paid for by a spoon. For the lucky members of the population a rest will replenish their endless supply of spoons. Sadly, this is not the case for all and for many there is a restriction on their daily spoons. Once their spoons have been spent that is it and they have no way of replenishing the spoons needed to proceed with the rest of the day.
How does it work?
Someone who is sick may begin their day with 10 shiny spoons! However, the weather isn’t so great today and they didn’t sleep very well last night and so they have woken up in pain. Getting out of bed will cost them a spoon! And the price of a shower will be 2 spoons and 2 more to prepare breakfast. So, sat at the breakfast table they are now the owner of five shiny spoons!!!
Now they really must begin to think careful about how the remaining spoons are spent. Worse case scenario is that they do not have enough spoons to get home safely without help. Use all the spoons and push to hard and it can lead to even less spoons tomorrow. The phone rings and its friends wanting to meet for a walk and a day of fun at the park. They know that they do not have the spoons required to get through the day.
This is the life the so many people deal with who suffer from fatigue as the result of a medical condition or as a result of mental illness.
The spoon theory not only helps get across just how people are affected but it helps the individual to remember they are not lazy and that this is a situation that is beyond their control. You simply have to put yourself and your wellbeing first.
It is horrible to be “that person” in the group of friends that must cancel, who turns down the offers of a day out. To sit back and worry that you will never be included again because you feel flaky only adds to the self-deprecating ideas that feel the heads of those suffering.
This is when the support of amazing friends and family comes into play, reassurance and patience means the world to the friend who struggles.
Thank you to those who support me and to those of you seeking support, find a reputable therapist who can help you to deal with your condition and also guide you in advanced relaxation techniques which may help to increase the spoons you have to spend.